Another night, another frustrating home loss for the Bruins last night against the
Nordiques Avalanche. A great first 10 minutes became a bad last 50 minutes, and the B’s dropped to a hard-to-believe 1-5-1 at home.
Which begs the question … how much of this is on the coaching?
Look, this isn’t a HOT TAKE or knee jerk reaction to a loss in November. It’s about the strategy of a staff that seems to be unwilling to make certain changes that are in the best interest of the team.
For example, Kevan Miller is obviously strugg-aling. His giveaway last night lead directly to the game winning goal. It’s a mistake, sure, but not one that should happen, and one that’s happened all too often so far this year. So, will Miller be benched for the next game? I’m here to say it’s doubtful. To keep throwing Miller out there is a disservice to everyone, and quite honestly has to be a bit demoralizing. Zach Trotman sure was taught a lesson after a bad first game against Winnipeg. And Brad Marchand, one of your best, was benched for a dumb penalty last week and demoted to another line. But was David Krecji benched for his asinine penalty against the Canadiens Saturday night? Nope. Was Adam McQuaid benched for his bad icing that lead to the tying goal last night? Nope again.
This selective punishment is strange, to say the least. Why a guy like Miller seems to get off easy while Marchand gets the hammer is also strange.
Another example is putting the 4th line out with a bit over 2 minutes left, down a goal. In no way, shape, or form should that line be out there in that situation. You load up with your best as much as possible. But this coach has proven to be unwilling to do that, for reasons that escape me, and probably Cam Neely and Don Sweeney as well.
Also, are timeouts not allowed? Because a well placed TO can really help, and it’s imperative that the coach sense the pulse of his team, and what has happened in the past, and do whatever he can to change things. Julien has a tendency to just keep playing, and a young, inexperienced team like the Bruins might need to take a breath every now and then and be reminded of the game plan, which Julien was quick to point out was not followed last night:
“Same old, same old,” said Julien. “We’re off to a good start again, get a 2-0 lead, and instead of continuing to play your game, you started seeing some long passes that ended up in icings. You saw some turnovers at the blue line. So we’re being a little stubborn right now in respecting our game plan, the whole game. And I thought in the third period it was one team that was a little bit more determined than the other.”
Sorry, but that’s on your and your assistants if the team veers from the game plan. And if the other team wants it more? That’s on you as a motivator. I’m sure you said some things during the intermission, but if you’re Julien wouldn’t you do whatever you could during the game? Particularly if your job kinda, sorta depends on it?
But wait, there’s more. Julien also went on to lament the puck movement from the defense:
“Puck movement from the back end,” coach Claude Julien said when asked how his team could improve its breakouts. “Where is the improvement? It’s there sometimes. It is there. Tonight it wasn’t. So we’ve got to be a little bit better with that, and it goes back to what I said: consistency in our game. You see it one night. You don’t the next.”
If puck movement from the back-end is an issue, why are three of your defenseman not particularly adept at that task? Isn’t it on you, as the coach, to put the best puck movers on the ice?
This isn’t all on the coaching. The players are certainly responsible to a degree, and should be smarter to not take a dumb penalty in the 3rd period of a one-goal game IN MONTREAL. And this isn’t to pile on a guy like Miller. But when one guy keeps turning the puck over, and nothing is done, then what message does that send? When a guy takes a bad icing, don’t just shrug it off. Make him realize it’s unacceptable. You think Bill Belichick would let a guy off the hook for a fumble? Just ask Stevan Ridley.
Claude Julien is a good coach, but he does have some shortcomings. And those shortcomings are being exposed so far this season. It’s a guy willing to change some things, but only to a point. And one wonders how much longer Neely and Sweeney will put up with it.